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Congestion… At Starbucks?

While driving the Issaquah shuttle (Metro route #200) this morning, I had a layover in front of Fred Meyer on East Lake Sammamish Way.  Across the parking lot from Fred Meyer is a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop along with several other businesses including, of course, a Starbucks coffee shop.  Since I hadn’t been to a Krispy Kreme in a while I thought I’d walk over and pick up a doughnut.  While walking across the parking lot I noticed a line of cars waiting for the drive-thru but didn’t think much of it at the time.  After using the restroom, buying a doughnut, and watching their Willy Wonka-ish machine crank out the sweet little O-rings that made Krispy Kreme famous, I headed back to my bus.

I noticed there was still a line of cars at Starbucks so I walked on the sidewalk that runs past the drive-thru and turned around to take this picture.

Seriously, can you just walk an extra 100 feet?

Now, the cars in this picture are not the same cars I observed when I walked past the first time.  However, these cars did not move in the time it took me to walk from Krispy Kreme, seen in the background, to the point from which I snapped this picture.  I’m relatively sure they didn’t move in the time it took me to walk back to my bus.  But either way, I’ve got to wonder why these people didn’t just park their car and *walk* into Starbucks to get their coffee?

Are we really so used to sitting in traffic that we will willingly do so at the local coffee shop to avoid walking an extra 100 feet?  Are these people engrossed in a book on CD?  Or are these people so immersed in an important phone conversation that they dare not leave the warm and cozy confines of their automobile?  Whatever the reason is, I simply don’t get it – and I hope I never do.

UPDATE 3/12/2010:

I ended up driving the 200 again this morning and saw this scene repeated.  I decided to perform a little experiment.  From the front door of Fred Meyer, which is further across the parking lot from the above picture’s location, I spotted a car in line to use as my test subject.  I then walked over to the Starbucks, went inside, looked over the menu, ordered an 8oz Mocha, and proceeded to surf the Internet on my phone while waiting for my test subject’s car to appear.  About 7 or 8 minutes after I had started the experiment, the white Toyota land yacht that I had been waiting for appeared.  For the record, I was halfway through the luke-warm and chalky liquid that Starbucks calls a “Mocha” at this point.

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  1. March 3, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I’m with you. A stop at a food joint is a good time to take a break from sitting in the car. It’s often faster than sitting in the drive through line as well!

  2. Barry Jung
    March 4, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Those queueing up at the drive-thru are likely listening to the latest traffic update and don’t want to miss it by going inside…..

  3. March 6, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I was on the other end of that at a restaurant for… too long. Our goal was “90 seconds total experience”, meaning from the time they pulled up to the time they got their order was 90 seconds. We could only do that during mid-day lunch on weekdays, or if staffing levels were sufficiently high enough (and they never were, because they’d start sending people home if they were). Regularly times would go over 600 seconds.

    There were also managers that preached “If the food isn’t up, park it” which means we’d direct the customer to a specific parking stall while we waited for some part of their order to finish cooking. I would regularly ignore this rule, stating that it’s a Drive THRU and not a Drive IN.

    Not really sure why people always sat in their cars though; I always worked the same days and usually the same shifts and I got to know the regulars. For the non-regulars I could tell by listening when they were done ordering, and as soon as a I saw the person, car, and looked at their order, I could guess with 90% accuracy how they were going to pay (card, exact change, twenty, etc.)

    Also fun were the people that would NOT get off their phones, people that passed the window, and my least favorite, people that would smoke. Disregard the fact that smoking within 30 feet of a building entrance is illegal and disregard the fact that we had signs up prohibiting smoking. We weren’t allowed to ask them to stop because it might upset some customers, and keeping them as a customer was more valuable than a few seconds of me suffering.

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